Hand of the Week: The Curious Case of Tom Dwan and the Magic Six

Tom Dwan
Risky play pays off ... this time.

Was 2009 the most glorious year in history for high-stakes online poker?

Based on the volume of action and the astronomical blinds that were standard at time, it certainly has a very good case.

Two of the primary protagonists of that era were Tom Dwan and “martonas,” a Swedish player who shook the online world before crashing badly.

In this hand you’ll see just how quickly everything can change in one single hand of poker and how the river can really turn things around.

We'll look at this hand from Tom Dwan’s perspective.

Tom Dwan
Big risks were just a part of Dwan's MO.

Flop to River

The game was No-Limit Hold’em with $500/$1,000 blinds and five (!) players at the table.

From second position Cole South raises to $3,000. Patrik Antonius folds the button but martonas reraises from the small blind to $12,000.

Dwan is in the big blind and holds    

With effective stacks around 300 bb Dwan 4-bets to $35,600. South folds but martonas calls.

There's $74,200 in the pot and effective stacks are now around $265k. The flop falls      

Both players check and they go to a turn of  

Now martonas takes the lead and bets $78,000. Dwan calls. There's now $230,200 in the pot and effective stacks are $187,000. The river is the  

Martonas moves all-in and Dwan calls with his rivered straight. The pot is $604,000 and the whole lot goes to durrrr.

Tom Dwan
Check behind is surprising.

A Well-Hidden Monster

Dwan holds a very well-hidden monster that wins a monster pot. Yet there are several interesting moments in this hand worth a closer look.

Dwan’s 4-bet in the big blind with such a speculative hand like 5 4 is actually not a bad move given how deep the players’ stacks are.

With 300 bb Dwan gets massive Implied Odds. If he hits he can almost certainly count on a full payout.

Martonas decides to be tricky with his pocket kings by just calling pre-flop. This way he’s representing a much weaker hand than he actually has.

He hopes to get more money out of his opponent but on the flip side he has to play on without position.

The flop brings a real textbook situation. Martonas hits top set while Dwan’s speculative hand has turned into an up-and-down straight draw.

Note here that on the low end of his straight Dwan would fill up with an ace, which is a card that would often be in martonas’ range.

The betting sequence is also very interesting. Martonas plays his monster the standard way by checking to the raiser.

Dwan checking behind is more surprising. The board fits his range very well so a c-bet should be the right move.

Hs opponent would probably fold some better hands here but it looks like Dwan is thinking he could either make martonas fold on a later street or get a full payout with a monster.

Tom Dwan
Equity says its a clear fold.

A Call Does Not Look Good

The 4 on the turn doesn’t change much for martonas. Even though he doesn’t have the nuts anymore – that would be 6-5 – there are a lot worse hands than his that would still pay him off.

He slightly overbets the pot to make it look a little more like he’s bluffing.

Dwan’s straight draw hasn’t changed but now he also holds a pair. If his opponent was in fact bluffing - say with a flush draw - he would have the best hand.

From his point of view he has now additional outs. There are eight to the straight, but now there are five more for two pair and trips.

That would give him 13 outs, which makes the call reasonable.

Still, the call does not look like a very good move. If martonas was bluffing, he’d probably do it again on the river and Dwan would hardly be able to call with a pair of fours.

Also he has to discount the diamond outs as they could be poisoned and he has to take a set for his opponent into account.

Dwan really has only 18% equity here – this is a clear fold.

The Magic Six

The river brings the magic 6 for Tom Dwan. There's no way his opponent can even comprehend that so he moves all-in.

Hands like A-K, A-A or lower sets could still pay him off here and the Swede would surely pay every bet from Dwan here.

Tom Dwan
All's well that ends well.

So the Swede did everything right and still lost.

A $600k reward goes to Tom Dwan for his most risky play.

Conclusion

Playing very deep-stacked Dwan pulls off a trick with a speculative hand.

On the turn he makes a wrong decision with a very doubtful call. This shows the typical problems of a hand like 45s regarding reverse implied odds.

As we know often happens in poker, Dwan got lucky on the river to catch the magic card and save himself from losing a lot of money.

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